- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

The House yesterday passed a Democrat-crafted $3 trillion budget resolution for fiscal 2009 that calls for balancing the budget by 2012 but only by assuming that President Bush”s tax cuts are allowed to expire and by not penciling in any war spending after 2009.

Senate Democrats also were heading toward passing their own budget plan late yesterday.

Democrats say their proposal is fiscally responsible while calling for more spending on infrastructure, education, renewable energy and other programs. Republicans called the budget a typical Democratic tax-and-spend product that will lead to the largest tax increase in history.

The House proposal passed by a vote of 212-207 after two days of debate. No Republicans supported the budget, while only 16 Democrats voted no. The House also defeated a Republican-backed version of the budget.

Budgets are more than just accounting documents — budgets are statements of our national values, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. The Democratic budget plan puts future generations first by moving us to surplus by 2012.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, said the Democratic budget that passed raises taxes; $683 billion on everybody, not just rich people.

The annual budget resolution is a nonbinding outline that guides future legislation and establishes overall spending and revenue goals. It will be up to individual congressional committees to determine where the money goes. Fiscal 2009 begins Oct. 1.

But with a new president taking office in January, Congress is likely to wait for the new administration before writing broad tax reform legislation.

The Democratic plan calls for spending $22.4 billion more than Mr. Bush requested for next year for domestic programs and would let some of his tax cuts expire after 2010. The Bush administration has threatened to veto any bills that would spend more than he requested in his February budget for domestic programs.

The Democratic plan also would add $4.9 billion for veterans” health care and provide $50 billion over five years for the State Children”s Health Insurance Program.

The blueprint projects a $340 billion deficit in fiscal 2009, which would transform into a $178 billion surplus in 2012. But the proposal only includes $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is likely to be significantly less than what is needed. And no war funds are included beyond 2009.

American families and small businesses are feeling the strain from rising costs of living … but unfortunately, this Democratic budget does nothing to help alleviate their problems, said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. Instead, it makes them worse.

House Republicans also say the budget doesn”t do enough to reform troubled entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats defeated a Republican plan that would have extended Mr. Bush”s reductions — and went further by eliminating the alternative minimum tax, which was originally designed years ago to make sure rich people pay at least some tax but now threatens more than 20 million additional taxpayers with increases averaging $2,000.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

TAX PLANS

The House and Senate yesterday debated various options for renewing President Bush’s tax cuts when they expire at the end of 2010. Here are the proposals:

• Senate Democrats, including presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, pushed through a plan to selectively preserve $340 billion of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts through 2013. It would extend the 10 percent tax bracket, the $1,000-per-child tax credit, relief from the so-called “marriage penalty” and various tax cuts for people serving in the military and National Guard.

• Senate Republicans failed in their efforts to extend another $600 billion of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts by preserving all other current tax rates. Otherwise, those rates will rise three percentage points at the end of 2010, and the highest rate will rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The Republican plan also would have continued the zero tax rate on inheritances in 2010. That rate is now is scheduled to revert to 55 percent in 2011. The Republican plan also offered middle-income families long-term protection from becoming subject to a higher alternative minimum tax rate.

• House Democrats would allow all of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts to expire, effectively raising taxes by $683 billion from 2011 through 2013.

• House Republicans would preserve all of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts and eliminate the alternative minimum tax entirely, at a total cost of almost $1.2 trillion in revenues for the Treasury over the next five years. Some Medicare and Medicaid benefits would be cut to help pay for their plan.

Source: Associated Press

The Washington Times

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